Born into one of the world’s richest families, the Rockefellers, whose vast wealth was amassed from the American oil boom in the late 1880s, Eileen Rockefeller Growald is a venture philanthropist focused on using her family’s money to help the world switch to clean energy.

The 67 year-old founded the Growald Family Fund with her husband, Paul Growald, a little over a decade ago. “Climate change was, and is, the number one threat to all of the things we care most deeply about,” she told her audience at the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network Conference (AVPN) 2019 in Singapore.

In her keynote address, she said that her family “came to see that everything, including world peace, was threatened by the dramatic change in the earth’s climate.” She was in Singapore to share her experience on how venture philanthropy can aid the clean energy transition in Southeast Asia, the only region in the world where coal—the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions—is gaining share in the energy mix.

Venture philanthropy is relatively new to a region where, historically, charitable donations rather than the strategic allocation of funding have been used by wealthy family-owned businesses to tackle social and environmental problems.

Rockefeller Growald explained the difference: “Whereas charity provides generosity to individuals and institutions in response to their immediate needs, philanthropy addresses the root causes of major problems.”

But even with the vast financial clout of the Growald Family Fund, the challenge of moving Southeast Asia from fossil fuel dependence to clean energy doesn’t get much bigger. And it is the job of Athena Ronquillo-Ballesteros, the fund’s regional climate finance director, to work out where to—as Rockefeller Growald put it at the AVPN Conference—“invest and spend money wisely.”

Read the full article about venture philanthropy and clean energy in Southeast Asia by Robin Hicks at Eco-Business.